Today’s Deep Space Extra

September 20th, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Boeing and SpaceX discussed their NASA commercial crew safety objectives at the AIAA’s Space Forum in Orlando, Florida, this week. The annual Space Forum also provided NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and five of his predecessors an opportunity to reflect on recent U.S. human space exploration initiatives. The Martian surface reveals evidence of recent geological activity. Blue Origin’s Jeff Bezos pledges continued significant investments in commercial rocket and launch facility development.

Human Space Exploration

Commercial crew providers believe they now meet NASA safety requirements

Coalition Member in the News – Boeing (9/19): During presentations before the American Institute of Astronautics and Aeronautics (AIAA) in Orlando, Florida this week, executives with Boeing and SpaceX said they believe the CST-100 Starliner and crewed Dragon will meet NASA safety requirements for their commercial crew transports. NASA has set the safety criteria at a 1/270 probability for death or permanent disability for one or more of the vehicle crew members. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is assessing the modeling by each company on the safety issue as plans for uncrewed and crewed test flights approach.

Japanese cargo ship gets new launch date for Space Station delivery (9/19): The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has reset for Friday at 2:15 p.m., EDT, the launch of the agency’s seventh resupply mission to the six person International Space Station (ISS). The launch has been delayed three times in response to launch vehicle propulsion and weather concerns. With a successful liftoff on the fourth attempt, the Kounotori resupply capsule and a more than 10,000 pound cargo of crew supplies, science experiments and batteries to upgrade the Station’s solar power system should reach the Space Station early September 25. Please note that early Thursday, JAXA again postponed the launch of Kounotori due to launch site weather concerns. The updated launch time is Saturday at 1:52 p.m., EDT, which will change the arrival of the space freighter at the Space Station.


Space Science

Recent techtonics on Mars

European Space Agency (9/10): Imagery from the European Space Agency’s Mars orbiter, Mars Express, reveals signs of geologically recent techtonic activity of Mars, which created long fault lines near the planet’s equator less than an estimated 10 million years ago. The faults may be linked to volcanic activity in the region and perhaps offer a pathway to the surface for sources of subsurface water.

How to know once and for all if the universe began with a bang or a bounce

Universe Today (9/19): An astronomy study team from Harvard University and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics is offering a new model to test theories for the birth of the universe and its rapid expansion and seeming uniformity. An explanation of the model appeared recently in the journal Physical Review of Letters.


Other News

Current and former NASA leaders discuss space agency at 60

Florida Today (9/17): NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was joined by five previous agency administrators at the opening this week of the AIAA Space Forum in Orlando, Florida, to reflect on the agency’s recent history and efforts to advance space exploration, while seeking a productive role for the private sector.

In front of a military audience, Bezos touts investments in rockets, launch facilities (9/18): Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos promised continued significant investments in the development of the company’s New Glenn heavy lift rocket with a reusable first stage as well as Florida launch facilities in remarks before an Air Force Association gathering in Maryland on Wednesday. He urged the military to look to the nation’s private sector for cost reductions as well as innovation.

China’s Tiangong-2 space lab completes second year in orbit

GB Times of Finland (9/18): China’s Tiangong 2 space lab is marking its second anniversary in Earth orbit this month. Though absent astronauts at the moment, the orbital lab has housed Chinese astronauts and performed other operations to prepare Beijing for the assembly of a large module space station, starting in 2020.

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